She has done it again.
Sister Norma Pimentel, the Rio Grande Valley’s uber-ambassador, met last week at the Vatican with Pope Francis to help kick off a new global campaign to assist immigrants and refugees.
That the world leader of the Roman Catholic Church hand picked our Sister Norma is no coincidence. She truly is blessed and she has blessed us all with her unending humanitarian spirit and her strive to show us all how we should treat one another, regardless of religion, age, color, income and government papers.
It seems as though her and Pope Francis are becoming old friends as she has now met with the pontiff in person when he visited the United States and on TV when he personally acknowledged her work via closed circuit TV.
As always, Sister Norma displayed humility and did not announce the trip until after she met with Pope Francis on Wednesday along with 20 refugees from Syria, Africa, Cuba and Ethiopia.
“They’re asking for protection and they’re asking to be safe,” Sister Norma told Monitor Reporter Naxiely Lopez-Puente via phone.
As director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, she was invited to tell about the thousands of immigrants that her organization has helped at the Humanitarian Respite Center at Sacred Heart in downtown McAllen, which she helped to open after a flood of immigrants began coming through our region in 2014 upon being released by U.S. federal immigration authorities.
Women late in their pregnancies, toting babies and without a dime to their name, have found their way to the center’s doors; eating warm chicken soup and gaining strength in the welcoming applause and smiles of the many volunteers there.
Leading them all has been Sister Norma, who insists that all refugees are greeted with the utmost respect, like visiting family. And it is that attitude that has made her a sister to us all.
We hope that her tales will help to inspire other refugees and those opening refugee centers in other countries as part of the Vatican’s new two-year campaign called “Share the Journey.” Spearheaded by the Vatican’s Caritas charity, this program aims to build bridges of understanding and hospitality toward the displaced.
“This is simply to help us understand not to be afraid of immigrants, to understand their journey and see what your role is in helping them,” Sister Norma told Lopez. “It’s definitely an amazing honor to be recognized and be picked among many people doing such wonderful work.”
We are honored to have Sister Norma living within our Valley.
At a time when our nation is so bitterly divided on the issue of immigration, this nun cuts to the chase and stays out of the political fray by addressing the very essence of who we, as humans, and why we are put on this Earth: To help one another.
We hope and we believe her work will temper this division and mellow us all to try to better understand one another.
And so on this Sunday, a day when many give thanks, we give thanks for Sister Norma for helping to put the plight of so many who have crossed through South Texas on journeys of hope and even salvation. We hope her stories will help to guide our political leaders as they search for a way to reform our nation’s policies to better accommodate and fairly recognize those who could contribute and add to our American society.